Salt Lake City School District school closure recommendations

Nov 20, 2023, 8:45 PM | Updated: Nov 22, 2023, 2:46 pm

Elizabeth Grant, superintendent of the Salt Lake City School District, watches fifth and sixth grad...

Elizabeth Grant, superintendent of the Salt Lake City School District, watches fifth and sixth graders build structures out of spaghetti noodles and marshmallows in their summer school class at North Star Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Thursday, July 6, 2023. (Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

(Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — On Monday, Salt Lake City School District released the initial recommendations about what elementary schools should close.

Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Elizabeth Grant outlined the recommendations in an open Salt Lake City School District Board.

It is recommended the board close four elementary schools: Hawthorne Elementary, M. Lynn Bennion Elementary, Mary W. Jackson Elementary, and Riley Elementary.

“We analyzed data and implications of closure and determined that it is not in the best interest of our district to close all seven schools named for further study,” Grant said. “Closing seven schools at one time would strain the space available in the remaining schools.”

It would also require boundary adjustments and create more challenges with bussing students to school, she said.

However, the district recommended to close more schools rather than fewer. Grant said schools were studied in pairs based on how close they were. The recommendation is one school in each pair is closed.

“It is difficult to deliver this recommendation,” Grant said. “Each of these schools has value and they represent a community that has been working to serve families and students for years.”

Why were those schools recommended for closure?

Mary W. Jackson Elementary and Newman Elementary were studied as a pair. Newman has a PreK program that will be difficult to relocate, but Mary W. Jackson’s dual language program can be relocated. Newman’s building is also newer, and Grant said while it has a smaller overall enrollment, its neighborhood program serves more students than Mary W. Jackson. That’s why Mary W. Jackson is recommended for closure.

M. Lynn Bennion Elementary and Wasatch Elementary were the next pair studied. Grant said Wasatch has significant accessibility concerns. But, M. Lynn Bennion has fewer classrooms, is next to two major roads, and has a declining student population. So, M. Lynn Bennion was recommended for closure.

Emerson Elementary and Hawthorne Elementary were considered as a pair. Grant said both schools have aspects that would warrant a closure. However, Emerson is a district HUB school that serves students with disabilities. Relocating the HUB program would cause “significant disruption.” That’s why Hawthorne was recommended for closure.

Riley Elementary was considered on its own. Because there are two schools within 1.5 miles of it and last year 41% of residential students chose to attend a different school, it is recommended for closure.

Other recommendations 

Grant also outlined other recommendations for schools in the district. One is to avoid closing schools that are close together. Grant said closing schools close together would again require boundary changes and could require students to cross major roads to get to school. 

Expanding access to “special district programs” is also recommended. Those programs include magnet ELP programs, dual language programs, and special education hubs. Grant said only one such program should be located at any given elementary school. But, also recommends the district provide busing to the programs if they live more than 1.5 miles from their assigned school.

The last recommendation is that if a school does close, all faculty and staff be offered equivalent employment opportunities within their district. 

“Every employee brings value to the district, and I want to acknowledge these contributions,” Grant said.

Another public hearing will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. in the West High School Auditorium. It is open for everyone to comment on the recommendations.

Related stories: Salt Lake City School District considering school closures

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

K-12 Education

sign says "trans lives matter," the sign was for a protest about how slc school district was implem...

Heather Peterson

Implementation of new Utah bathroom law causes confusion in SLC School District

A new Utah bathroom law that takes effect on May 1 is at the center of some confusion about what schools do and don't need to do.

3 days ago

west high school clinic...

Heather Peterson

West High School opens on-campus clinic for students

The West High School clinic is the first of its kind will provide students with mental health resources and preventative healthcare at school.

1 month ago

Image of an empty locker room. The Utah High School Activities Association is investigating how int...

Amy Donaldson

LISTEN: Utah high school sports group investigating ‘scholarships’ for international students

One student's struggles highlight lack of scrutiny, oversight and accountability on the part of private schools and prep academies.

1 month ago

An 18-year-old male has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a fight at Ben Lomond High Sch...

Eliza Pace, KSL TV

Ben Lomond High School employee arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing student

A woman has been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing a minor she met at the high school where she was employed.

1 month ago

FILE: Students work on a computerize map at Hillsdale Elementary. There is intense interest in the ...

Peter Johnston

Utah’s school choice scholarship attracts more homeschoolers

Homeschooled make up over half of the applicants for the Utah Fits All scholarship program according to data.

1 month ago

The purple Alpine School District logo is projected onto a white background...

Adam Small

First public meeting held on potential Alpine School District split

A Florida-based consulting group held its first public meeting regarding six proposals, some of which would split Alpine School District. 

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Salt Lake City School District school closure recommendations